Asia shares climb as Trump pushes out tariff deadline

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares scaled a 5-month peak on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed he would delay a planned increase on Chinese imports as talks between the two sides were making “substantial progress”.

FILE PHOTO – A woman points to an electronic board showing stock prices as she poses in front of the board after the New Year opening ceremony at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), held to wish for the success of Japan’s stock market, in Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The Australian dollar, a liquid proxy for China investments, got a 0.4 percent lift from the news and the dollar touched a fresh seven-month low on the yuan.

Shanghai blue chips jumped 2.8 percent. That brought gains this year to 20 percent, helped in part by Beijing’s efforts to pump new credit into the financial system.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 percent to the highest since October, and is up 10 percent for the year so far.

Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.6 percent to levels last seen in mid-December. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 edged up 0.3 percent, while Treasury futures slipped.

Trump on Sunday tweeted he would push back the March 1 deadline for higher tariffs and looked forward to a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping when a deal was sealed.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators were discussing the thorny issue of how to enforce a potential trade deal on Sunday after moving ahead on structural issues, a source said.

Trump tweeted progress had been made on intellectual property, technology transfers, agriculture, services and currencies.

“The high frequency engagement between Beijing and Washington at a senior level implies that both sides are looking for some form of settlement,” said Tai Hui, chief market strategist Asia Pacific at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“I think the market has been moving towards this view in recent weeks, as shown by the strong performance in China A Shares and Asian equities. Hence, the latest news may not offer a significant boost.”


Hopes for an end to the trade standoff had helped the S&P 500 post its highest close since Nov. 8 on Friday, while the Dow and Nasdaq boasted a ninth straight week of gains. [.N]

Stocks have also been underpinned by a dovish shift from the U.S. Federal Reserve which has set aside rate hikes for now. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will testify on U.S. monetary policy on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Expect him to emphasize patience, stating that any more hikes this year would likely require some pickup in inflation,” wrote analysts at TD Securities in a note.

“On the balance sheet, he will not front-run the FOMC and announce anything new, but repeat that the Committee expects the runoff could end later this year.”

In currencies, the trade news deflated the safe-haven yen a little and lifted the dollar to 110.76. The euro was flat at $1.1340 and still well within the $1.1213/1.1570 trading range that has held since mid-October.

Against a basket of currencies the dollar was holding steady at 96.455.

Sterling was idling at $1.3065 as markets awaited some clarity on where Brexit talks were heading.

Prime Minister Theresa May put off a vote on her Brexit deal until as late as March 12 – just 17 days before Britain is due to leave the EU – setting up a showdown this week with lawmakers who accuse her of running out the clock.

The Telegraph reported May was considering whether to delay Britain’s exit for up to two months.

In commodity markets, spot gold edged up a touch to $1,328.91 per ounce.

Oil prices were near their highest since mid-November, despite record output from the United States. [O/R]

U.S. crude was last up 12 cents at $57.38 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 19 cents to $67.31.

Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

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